I’m a Professional Gear Tester — These Are 10 Things I Think Wirecutter Is Flat-Out Wrong About
I cut my teeth testing equipment for America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve spent months trying multicookers, I’ve fried 50 eggs in a row to see how well the nonstick coating of a pan performed, I’ve thrown coolers out of car trunks, and I’ve made stacks and stacks of pancakes to find the best griddle. And then I’ve written about it, to make sure you know what the best gear for your money is.
When I test and write about gear, I do look at other in-depth equipment reviews. It’s helpful to see what my peers think and how they test. One of my favorite sites is Wirecutter, a New York Times-owned website. I trust them and, for the most part, agree with their choices. But I do disagree with some of Wirecutter’s top picks. Of course, everyone has different opinions and my rating criteria may well diverge from Wirecutter’s, but here are 10 things I think they’re flat-out wrong about.
Drip Coffee Makers
Wirecutter chose the OXO Brew 9 Cup Coffee Maker as their top coffee maker. And while OXO makes a lot of truly exceptional (and some of my favorite) gear and gadgets, the Technivorm Moccamaster 79312 Coffee Brewer is, hands-down, my favorite automatic drip coffee maker. It makes consistently exceptional coffee and is super simple to operate, requiring just a flick of a switch to turn it on and off. And although it doesn’t have an automatic start option, so that it might brew before you wake up, it truly couldn’t be simpler to turn on — even when you’re groggy. And it brews a full pot of Joe in about six minutes, so you can make toast, hug your dog, put away dishes, or do whatever while you wait.
Portable Induction Burners
A portable induction burner can be super helpful if you’re in need of an extra burner during the holidays or are living somewhere without a stove, such as a camper or boat. And Wirecutter chose the Duxtop 9100MC as their top pick. I spent months testing portable induction burners for Cook’s Illustrated and much preferred the Max Burton Digital Induction Cooktop and the Breville/PolyScience Control Freak (which, um, is about $1,500). Both of these burners were easy to use, cooked evenly, and were able to reach and maintain consistent temperatures better than other models I tested.
Wirecutter argues that the best air fryer is actually a toaster oven. I’ve actually tested air fryers, toaster ovens, and toaster oven air fryers, and do not think this is entirely accurate. If you have limited counter/storage space and can only choose an air fryer or a toaster oven, I recommend the Breville Smart Oven Air, which is accurate and works very well as both a toaster oven and an air fryer. However, the downside to using a toaster oven air fryer is that it has to preheat (a regular air fryer does not). Also, air fryer baskets have handles, which makes them easy to grab. They’re nonstick, too, so they’re easy to clean. The air fryer toaster ovens I’ve tested do not have nonstick air fry baskets, so cleanup was way more of a chore.
I think Wirecutter’s top pick by Tramontina is a good skillet, but I don’t think it’s the best option. My favorite is this one from OXO. It’s Cook’s Illustrated’s top pick — and for good reason. For that testing, I watched my old coworker dry fry (no oil!) 100 eggs in it without any stickage, amongst other tests. The pan’s also oven-safe, with a stainless steel handle that stays cool when it’s on the stovetop.
I love my Lodge cast iron skillet, but I was honestly quite shocked that Wirecutter named the Lodge Dutch oven their favorite. Yes, it’s relatively inexpensive and not a bad option by any means, but it has a smaller cooking surface and is heavier than other comparatively sized Dutch ovens. I think Le Creuset and Staub Dutch ovens are unparalleled for their design, longevity, cooking ability, and capacity. I’m also a huge fan of the Great Jones Dutchess, which Wirecutter did not recommend because of its tough-to-grasp moon-shaped handles and the fact it’s an “oval-shaped oven, which will work if you have a large range with oval burners.” I disagree with the former (I’ve never had trouble picking it up, even with oven mitts on); and as for the latter point, I have not found this to be true, as long as you preheat it well, in the years I’ve owned it.
The June Oven
While Wirecutter does not recommend the June Oven, I could not disagree more. Is it expensive? Yes, but I use my June Oven every day. And my parents (who also have a June) feel the same way. It’s incredibly accurate, heats up quickly, comes with a thermometer (no overcooked meat or fish!), and its food recognition technology is off the charts. It recognizes frozen waffles, bacon, chocolate chip cookies, tofu, carrots, walnuts, potatoes, and so, so much more. When it recognizes a food, it recommends a cooking time and temperature, which is incredibly convenient.
I love that it gives my husband, who’s an inexperienced cook, more confidence to make things on his own. June also has fantastic customer service, if things ever go awry. So while Wirecuttter said the June “falls short on its promise to make cooking easier,” I’ve have years of proof that this is not true.
Water Filter Pitchers
I actually bought Wirecutter’s top water filter pitcher pick to use at home. It does an excellent job when it comes to water filtration, but I find that I often make a mess whenever I go to pour from it. Perhaps I got a dud, but other Amazon reviews have complained of the exact same thing. I’ll still use it, because, again, it does a great job with filtration, but I’ll be buying a Brita next.
Food Storage Containers
I spent days testing food storage containers. I even submerged them, one after another, to make sure they were leakproof. Wirecutter chose these, and I do like them, but my favorite plastic food storage containers are these from Rubbermaid and my go-to glass ones are from OXO. Both are durable, have latches that won’t break, and come in multiple sizes, too.
I have spent weeks testing coolers (seeing how long it would take ice to melt, taking the temperature of cans of soda to see how long they stayed chilled, throwing them out of the back of a car to make sure they were durable). And, truly, I can’t recommend the Yeti enough, which is absent from Wirecutter’s top picks. My one gripe about the Yeti is that their coolers are heavy and should be lifted by two people when full. However, they now make one with wheels to circumvent this issue, although it’s only available in one size.